At the risk of starting with a football tale for the second day running, the best manager that England never had was the incomparable Brian Clough. Brian was one of only a small handful of people whose self-assured arrogance was entirely justified. He wasn't sure if he was the best manager in the country, but he was absolutely certain he was in the top one.
Constantly prone to offering advice to anyone who would care to listen, Brian often ended his words of wisdom with what was to become one of his many catchphrases - 'Young man' Unusual training methods abounded in Brian's training sessions, as did unusual punishments for any of his players who didn't come up to scratch. I have a strange recollection of Peter Withe, naked from the waist down, being forced to run to and fro in a field full of nettles. Or maybe that was just a dream I had.
I was reminded of Brian (that's Mr Clough to you!) when I broke out today's cassette 'The wanderer' for two reasons.
1. It's by another unconventional genius with Brian Clough levels of self-belief, 'Kevin Rowland' ('of Dexys Midnight Runners' as the insert asserts, somewhat unnecessarily)
2. The opening track is called 'Young man' and I can't resist singing along to it in my best Brian Clough voice.
This album is perhaps best-known for being Kevin's least-known album. It’s the one after the Dexys Midnight Runners albums and the one before the one where he wears a dress on the cover. It's perhaps Kevin's most obviously commercial and mainstream album, and ironically his least successful and the one held in least regard by those who consider themselves to be in the know.
I find this unfortunate as it's a great album if you're prepared to take the time to get to know it. (Over) produced by Deodato, there are some fantastic tracks here including the under-appreciated single, ‘Walk away’ and, with a nod towards Kevin's next album 'My beauty' (his masterpiece as far as I’m concerned), Kevin turns in a version of ‘Heartaches by the number’ which, depending on your point of view is wonderfully effortless or soullessly karaoke. I lean toward the former rather than the latter.
Side 2 is, if anything, a touch better than side 1. Whoever thought of using doo-wop arrangements (particularly on my favourite here, ‘Age can’t wither you’) was a genius. Whoever thought of using synthesised pan-pipes on a couple of the tracks was very clearly not.
Label – Mercury
Year – 1988
Brian Clough’s wife as Brian gets into bed – “God, your feet are cold”
Brian to Brian’s wife – “When we’re in bed you can call me Brian”